Getting Rid of Beetlejuice (Wallpaper Removal)

(Warning:  If you are new around these parts, you missed my disclaimer about my pictures. My DSLR camera lens is broken and until I pull the trigger on my wallet to have ‘er fixed, I am stuck with yucky cell phone pics!)

One of my favorite things to do is help other people with projects around their house. Spending someone else’s money and having more than just the few rooms in my house to design?  What’s not to love???

My fella moved into a new house around the same time I moved into mine last year!  The previous owner of his house did absolutely nothing to the house since the house was built in the 90’s, including NOT removing heinous wallpaper in the second bathroom and kitchen!  The second bathroom in his house is for his daughter, right outside of her bedroom. But no 9 year old should be subjected to this (see below) getting ready each day!

WPBathroom 1


WPBathroom 3

Pretty hideous, eh?  It totally reminds me of Beetlejuice!! Don’t you think?!?!



It’s actually enough to hurt your eyes while standing in there!  Along with the gold accents, bubbled linoleum floor and sort-of whitewashed cabinets, this bathroom was in MAJOR need of an overhaul and new design!

First step…….removing that wallpaper!  My fella is definitely a reasearcher and I am definitely one to just get right at it and figure out what works and what doesn’t.  He got several professional opinions on what method & products were best to take down the paper, and also some estimates to have it professionally removed.

Me being the optimistic DIY-er, I said we could totally do it, no issue!!!  It appeared that it would be pretty easy since most of the corners were bubbling and pulling away already (assumably due to shower steam over the years).  Boy was that assumption WRONG!!

I am going to highlight the different methods we used to take down the paper.  Due to schedules, I only helped a little with this project, and he and I DEFINITELY differ on which method is the best.

First, we got this Piranha wallpaper paste remover at Lowes.


The bottles suggest scoring the wallpaper with the scoring tool on the right then spraying the remover on the walls and letting it set for 15 minutes.  One of the two of us (cough, not me, cough) is exteremly impatient and got right to work trying to pry up the wallpaper.  It didn’t work quite so well and I definitely recommend waiting the full 15 minutes for the solution to fully saturate the paste behind the paper making removal easier.  We made SOME progress with this method, but it wasn’t removing the paper in large enough sections.


We just stared in dismay thinking of how much wallpaper was left……next method.

Another suggestion was just to use a bucket of warm water and a sponge.  Peel up some of the paper if you can with a scraper and then just soak the paper and glue.  The water getting behind the paper will soak the glue and help it pull off.



This method worked pretty well, but typically removed the paper first, leaving the layer of glue behind…..


The glue would come off by wiping it down with the wet sponge and scraping it off.

Next he borrowed a steamer from a friend of his who is a painter.  This was MY favorite method by far!!!

(We have no pictures of this process because he doesn’t yet understand the need for all of the pictures in blogging so he returned the steamer before I remembered to take a pic!!)  This one from Amazon is similar and should work just as well.)


 With the steamer, I scored the wallpaper lightly. Scoring too much made too many holes and the paper wouldn’t rip off in large sections like I had hoped.

Once the paper is scored, start pulling up a small section if possible and hold the steamer 2-4 inches away from the paper.  The water will run down the paper…… just BE CAREFUL!! That joker gets hot and the steam is fierce!!!

Anyway, hold the steamer in place for 5-8 seconds allowing the steam to soften the paper and the glue.  After that time, SLOWLY begin pulling the paper upward (sidenote, I found the best way was to start from the bottom and remove the paper in an upward direction – probably just personal preference!)


Again, this method seemed to remove most of the paper, leaving behind the glue, but another few seconds (only 3-4) with the steamer over the glue, it scraped off SUPER easily!


Well, there are the three methods we used……..the bathroom FINALLY looks like this………

IMG_2383 IMG_2384

There are a TON of holes in the wall that need to be spackled and sanded.  Unfortunately, there was really no way of preventing damage to the drywall when removing the glue. Sometimes – miraculously – when the paper came off WITH the glue, it also took off a section of drywall paper. So that has to be fixed.

But doesn’t it look SO MUCH better already?!?! It even seems bigger.  I cant wait to get rid of the gold shower door and other golds around the room!

So, to grade the methods we used:

1.  Piranha wallpaper paste remover :  B-

2.  Scraper/bucket of water:  A-

3.  Scraper/steamer:  A-

I vote that the steamer was my favorite method. The steam seemed to have a more widespread effect removing bigger chunks of paper and glue. And I found it strangely relaxing!!!

I asked the fella his favorite method and his response was “NONE!!!”  He found nothing about this relaxing or fun! BUT, I made him pick and his choice was the bucket of water.  He thought the steamer made too much of a drippy mess. And burned!

So……have you been removing any old, ugly, horror-themed wallpaper?  What are your favorite methods to use! Tell me!!!


4 thoughts on “Getting Rid of Beetlejuice (Wallpaper Removal)

  1. Hey Tiff, my dad painted houses on the side back in the day and he used to take me along when there was wall paper to be removed. His favorite removal technique was hot water mixed with white vinegar. You could put it into a sprayer and then let it soak into the scored wall paper. It worked pretty well, except for the one place that had wall paper x2 then paint, then more wall paper!! Fun times!

  2. Having worked on as a painter alongside my husband for years, we’ve worked with a few wallpaper removal companies. The one that did the cleanest and best job used very hot water and Palmolive dish liquid (has to be Palmolive!) in a yard sprayer. You have to be patient, let it soak for quite awhile and the wallpaper and the backing will pull off.

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